#010 Growth Mindset with Big Life Journal Founder, Alexandra Eidens

by | Feb 7, 2021

Today I’m speaking with Alexandra Eidens about all things Growth Mindset!

Alexandra is the CEO and Founder of the Big Life Journal website and it was lovely to catch up and talk.

In this episode you’ll hear:

  • What is a growth mindset?
  • What is the difference between a fixed mindset and a growth mindset?
  • How can we encourage our children to have a growth mindset (and us!).
  • What the best thing we can do as parents.

Hit play and let’s get started!

Memorable Quote

“What are the automatic thoughts? What do they immediately start thinking If something doesn’t go their way?… We can help our children rewire their brain to replace those thoughts with positive ones or the encouraging empowering ones.” – Alexandra

 “If you can influence their brain structure and how the brain is wired, and you can literally set them up for success in life.” – Alexandra

 “We like to say that children are not born with a certain level of potential, their potential is unlimited. And your job as a parent is to first, make sure they know that. And second, help them develop their potential.” – Alexandra

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Transcript

Sophia Elliott:  [00:00:00] I’m delighted today to welcome Alexandra Eidens CEO and founder of the big life journal.

And now the big life kids podcast changing lives around the globe one growth mindset at a time. Alexandra, welcome to the ELL gifted kids podcast.

Alexandra Eidens, Big Life Journal: Thank you so much for having me. I’m very excited.

Sophia Elliott: I’m delighted to be talking to you today. I’m a huge fan. We as a family have been using your products for a few years now, and it’s lovely to be able to share that with the rest of our community.

I know that a gifted kids in particular can have challenges with growth mindset. As children who learn quickly when they face those situations where they’re not used to getting things wrong or out of their comfort zone, having to try when normally, it just comes quite naturally to them.

They hit that wall. So what is the growth mindset?

Alexandra Eidens, Big Life Journal: Yeah. Mindset is how you think about yourself and your world and the world around you. How do you think about your talents, your abilities, your skills and growth mindset was developed by professor Dr. Carol Dweck, and she is a Stanford psychologist, and she still is doing a lot of work around that, around the mindset and studying different types of mindsets.

What she said was there are two types of mindsets in general, and you can divide people into two mindsets of fixed mindset and growth mindset. And all of us are in between somewhere. So it’s never a hundred percent. And a growth mindset is when you believe that you can improve you are not too afraid of trying new things, you know, you can expand your abilities and you know, that your brain actually can grow which is true based on the science of neuro neurogenesis and neuroplasticity and a fixed mindset is the opposite of that is when you think that you’re born in a certain way and you kind of like have set skills and talents and abilities, and you might not as, might not.

As well, try so hard because you just kind of like set as a person.

Sophia Elliott: Excellent. So it’s all about taking out opportunities as they come up in life. And either coming from that belief that we’re able to change the way that we approach situations or feeling very fixed. And that way we can’t shift the way that we approach things and.

And so with the products that you have the big life journal, how does that help people develop a growth mindset?

Alexandra Eidens, Big Life Journal: Yes, so we have different types of things that we offer, including paid and free. Journals themselves they would be like the core resource that we promote and the journals are growth mindset.

So journals that guided. If you are new to growth mindset yourself as a parent, for example, and your child is new to this whole concept of mindset and growth mindset. A journal would be a great place to start because it’s guided, it guides you through the process of understanding.

What is how powerful your brain is, what is a basic science brain of science and brain science. And also, how can you apply this in day to day life? What does it mean to have a growth mindset? And and then we also have other things like some children learn different ways, right? They learn by.

Listening for example, and we have a great big life kids podcast, which is a growth mindset podcast, and it’s teaching children growth mindset lessons in a fun and entertaining way. So it’s totally free.  And if you would like to dip your toes into growth mindset at first, not sure if you know how your child is going to react to it.

This podcast is a great place to start because [00:04:00] it’s fun. It’s auditory, it’s like a story time and it’s. Slowly, introducing your child to all those different ideas.

Sophia Elliott: And it’s great. We often listen to the podcast on the way to school and back from school, it’s just the right length for the school run, which is really handy.

And it’s full of really quirky, interesting stories and adventures and  my kids love it. So definitely. Yeah, definitely something to tune into. And so the podcast is a great starting point  for parents and children, and then they can graduate to the journals. And my kids have got the journals as well.

They’re really great. And so parents can work through the journals with their children together. Is that the best way to approach it?

Alexandra Eidens, Big Life Journal: So there are different types , there’s like a workbook style where you go through the journal together with your child, and that’s the the big red journal for kids.

And we recommend it for ages seven to 10. We also have a journal for older children, which is. For tweens and teens, that actually it’s 11 and plus, and this is the, that journal has done on its own. A parent is not technically involved, even though we know that some parents buy for themselves as well, so they can do it.

Side-by-side with our tween and teen. And we also have a daily edition, which has also done on its own. And it’s more like to solidify the lessons learned in the first journal and to create this daily practice because it’s all about repetition and practice and. Wiring the brain and that’s why affirmations are so powerful. That’s why like consistent journaling is powerful because you help your brain and your child’s brain develop certain connections and new cells. And when you do it often you strengthen those connections. So instead of them having, let’s say. Kind of like we sometimes talk about automatic thoughts, if your child is into  has low self-esteem or has a negative self-talk, which we explained to a parent, you got to look at what are the automatic thoughts are like, what do they immediately start thinking?

If something doesn’t go their way. And we can help our children. Rewire, literally their brain to replace those thoughts with positive ones or the encouraging empowering ones, encouraging ones. And that’s what you want to do. Like it’s all about brain science and it’s once you understand that, how powerful your brain is and that you can influence like how your brain is wired by your daily practices, by things you do every day.

By your habits, but what your information you expose yourself to and your child to what you, how you talk to them. And if you can influence their brain structure and how the brain is wired, and you can literally set them up for success in life.

Keep reading transcript here...

Sophia Elliott: So how does having the growth mindset and practicing having that daily practice and growth in that area?

How does that help us set our kids up in the future  for  success?

I mean, growth mindset is  it’s very empowering. So let’s say if your child has a growth mindset means they know they can improve and they can get better, they can learn anything. And that’s a very empowering thing to know.

And when kids have a growth mindset, they. Are very open to new challenges and they can have this attitude of, I can handle anything. And if I can’t, if I get, if I have a mistake or if I fail on, I just learned from it and I keep going, I can ask for help. So they have this kind of like mental chatter.

And he’ll say, things that go through their head, which is very empowering. And essentially we like to say that children are not born with. Like certain level [00:08:00] of potential, their potential is unlimited. And your job as a parent is to first make sure they know that. And second help them develop their potential to like the levels.

They want to, right. So whatever they want to do in life, your job as a parent is to help them develop that mindset and that attitude and belief and self esteem that they can do anything. And they can be whoever they want to be. And that’s like the main point, right? So they’re not limited by anything.

They’re not limited by their own mindset, they’re not limited by resources. They’re not limited by circumstances. They just know that they are literally unlimited. And that’s what we want to communicate through all the resources that we provide is going to like that unlimited potential for your child.

Absolutely. That just sounds wonderful. And I know these resources are brilliant for old children and in particular, I can see how that’s really useful for gifted children who maybe struggle with perfectionism or might feel very defined by, being the person who always gets high grades and then find it really difficult when they get a bit older and study becomes harder.

So there’s all sorts of scenarios in which that growth mindset can really set up. All children, but give to children as well. Because they need that resilience, that belief that with the persistence, which comes up a lot in your journals and that understanding, like you say that they can work through things and, they can help train their brain to, to keep going with that persistence and they can do anything that they want.

So absolutely wonderful resources. We also use your cards at home. And I know sometimes as a family, we can come across these great things and then we find them really tricky to incorporate into our daily routine. And  we use these little cards Often at breakfast or dinner, someone will get them out and we’ll start asking questions.

And so do you have any other tips for ways in which families can help incorporate some of these things into their days?

Alexandra Eidens, Big Life Journal: Yes. There are tons of ideas. It is, I would, I always say start with your language because  the way that you speak with your child is probably one of the most important things.

And it is how you speak about themselves, how you speak about yourself in front of them, other people, and also like events and. And mistakes and failures and whatever is happening throughout the day and how you share your experiences. So language is how humans learn and make sense of the world.

And they watch you to understand the world because they are little, they don’t know what’s happening most of the time because it’s so complicated and they just watch you explain it to them, whether you’re aware of this or not. And watch how you speak about what’s happening and about themselves.

So for example, let’s say if you’re in your audience, people have gifted children and especially when they when they just, realize that something’s ever easy for them. And they’re just you know, get things very fast and to have the highest grades in the class. Like when you know that you can your goal should be help them develop a growth mindset.

So how do you do that? How do you speak about the achievements to them and like the main. I would say concept one of the main concepts of growth mindset is that the end result doesn’t really matter. And what matters is the process and how you got there. And if even Carol Dweck, Dr.

Carol Dweck was saying, is that if your child got something right, and it was easy for them, there’s in you, you know, that it was easy for them. It’s not something [00:12:00] to celebrate. So to say it is an opportunity. It’s a realization that what they’re doing now is not up for the, up to their capabilities.

They are, they capable of much more, and that’s your job to give them tasks and give them more challenging tasks. Give them like assignments that stretch their abilities because. And the end of the day, the end result, their A grade or they’re a hundred percent tests. It’s not as important as the actual, stretching of the mind.

And so when you realize that and when you explain it to them and you treat the end result the success of versus failure, like the same but make. Emphasis on how they got there, how they stretch themselves, what have they learned? Maybe they learned that it was too easy, right. So that’s also a helpful information, so they can you can say, okay, well, let’s find something more challenging.

Let’s look into this. Let’s look into that. And When you approach life like that is it’s just the main result is a learning is learning. And we also say, okay, help them achieve learning goals instead of achievement goals. Instead of saying, let’s get an a hundred percent on this test or it’s how can I, what can I learn in this process and how can I skill, build my skills and give to them not your child does not born with.

Skills available. Right? So they’re always something to learn and help them understand what skills will be helpful for them , in the future. In terms of, so to answer your original question, it’s all about like talking through this things, right? So I would say, the tools are great, but you’re your own mindset.

And we always say, start working on yourself first and and then you model it and how you talk to your child about what is happening in the world. And again, making, helping them to make sense of the world and also themselves and their abilities.

Sophia Elliott: Yeah, absolutely making sense of the world. That’s huge.

I do have a few questions that are from parents. And one of the questions is for children who really do struggle with the growth mindset. How as parents, can we. Explain that to friends and family in a way that doesn’t make it sound like we’re just being soft on our kids, but actually explaining that actually it’s a real challenge for this child to be in that uncomfortable space and something that we’re working on.

Have you got any advice there?

Alexandra Eidens, Big Life Journal:  Can you give me an example of what would be a situation?

Sophia Elliott:  One of my friends is wanting to take a family member wants to take their children to play mini-golf. But she knows that her kids will really struggle with that. The competitive nature of it, the expectations and disappointment of winning or losing.

And it’s just going to end in meltdowns and not be pleasant for anyone, but she’s struggling with how to communicate that to her family member and suggests that maybe it’s not the best thing to do.

Alexandra Eidens, Big Life Journal: Yeah. That’s a very interesting question. I would say that Of course you can, you can you’ll be talking to adults, right?

So in adults, it’s much easier to explain things to adults than to children, but in this situation that you described, I would  I don’t know, I don’t, I wouldn’t worry that much about hurting anybody’s feelings. So to say and say, this is this is what we do. This is how we raise our children.

This is the situation, but I would focus on the child and I wouldn’t necessarily shield them. From these experiences, because I know you’re, yeah. It’s not going to be pleasant for anybody, but at the same time, you are preventing this frustration, and it’s not necessarily helping your child in, it’s not helping them build up their frustration tolerance.

And what I mean by that is Let’s say, like, when you say, when the baby is born, we want to expose them to germs and  when we expose to [00:16:00] germs, that’s how they build the immune system. And if you protect your child, you bubble them up and you like, everything is sanitized. As soon as they exposed to any sort of germ outside of their environment, they will get sick.

And the reason is we shouldn’t be, we shouldn’t be shooting or curating. The. Experiences for our children, because they are with us only a certain amount of time. The job that your job as a parent is to expose them to frustrations and experience and anger. So they can go through it. You can coach them through it and they can go through it with you.

And they’re not alone because once they get out of your house and they go golfing mini golfing, and then  what Don’t necessarily think that you need to shelter your children from that. What  you need to do is to help them build frustration, tolerance and coping strategies in advance and practice little by little expose into frustration.

Yes. You feel this way. Yes. It’s horrible. Let’s go through it and not be afraid of this feelings because at the end of the day, they will experience them once they leave your home. So what’s the point of like shielding them from that.

Sophia Elliott: So it’s like exercising a muscle. The more often they get in that uncomfortable situation and work through it and practice the better that they’re going to be at being in those situations of winning and losing.

Alexandra Eidens, Big Life Journal: Yes. And it’s all about wiring your brain again. It’s and the resilience is certainly a muscle and you can. Let’s say so in advance, before you go to this event, you can do a lot of things in advance. There’s always like intervention in the moment in intervention, out of the moment, right out of the moment  is when you teach the lessons and help them build strategies in the moment, it’s usually just emphasizing for the experience because there’s not much, you can teach them in the moment of frustration and you shouldn’t be trying to do that.

But out of the moment, right before they go to this event, you can practice different coping strategies like something. Okay. So if they’re have very hard time losing play games with them that would expose them to. To lose in a game and when they’re with you and then you can coach them through and say, Hey, you know what?

That time today we play this game and you lost and you got really angry, really frustrated, and you threw all the blocks at me. And I totally get it. It’s really tough. And what I want is to help you go through these events and come out of them. So you’re not as frustrated.

So let’s think of different things. You can do what I like to do. And when I get really mad, when I get really frustrated I like to close my eyes, lay on the floor and count, to 10, or I like to take a sip of cold water or I like to do jumping jacks or do you want to try some of these things because in the end of the day, This is your role as a parent, right?

So like they don’t know this information, they need to learn it. And your role as a parent is to teach them that out of the moment, practice this things. And when they get into the moment, they might be able to recall some of the scenes. And again, It’s all about wiring your brain. How do, how does your brain respond to difficult situation?

So the difficult situation is I lost a game and the brain should be wired. That the response shouldn’t be a meltdown where a thought that I’m not good at this. It’s everything sucks. This is horrible. It should be wired that, okay, this is really hard. I need to take a breath. And that’s how, what’s the thought that needs to come right.

Come up in their head and we can help them do that. That’s what I would, how I would look at this.

Sophia Elliott: Yeah, absolutely helping him through it, preparing them before really great advice there. I had another question which was, I guess, some clarification around the growth mindset and is the growth mindset about celebrating when you get things wrong.

Alexandra Eidens, Big Life Journal: Yeah. So there is a component of that in terms of, yes, we are open to mistakes because mistakes help us learn and develop. But at the same time, there are different types of mistakes, right? So [00:20:00] not all mistakes are created equal. There are so-called stretch mistakes is when you make mistakes, when you stretch your abilities and you go into the zone where you are growing, you don’t know, it’s outside of your comfort zone, outside of your skillset.

You’re learning new things, and you’re absolutely will make mistakes. And those are the mistakes that we want to celebrate because we it’s indication that we are it’s information to us. Okay. We don’t know this thing yet. This is where we can learn. This is what we need to learn about. And other mistakes are sloppy mistakes, right?

So it’s when we just keep doing the same thing over and over again, because we’re not focused or we’re not paying attention, or those are not the mistakes that we need to celebrate necessarily. But at the same time, You got to give your child some credit and instead of first of all, understand what kind of mistake.

 Was it a stretch mistake? Was it a sloppy mistake? But even if it’s a slopping mistake, we need to understand the state of your child. And what state are they in? Are they stressed? Are they going through some difficult stress in their life? Are they tired? Are they hungry? They dysregulated maybe they have certain conditions with doesn’t allow them to focus on even.

To you and might be sloppy, but the brain doesn’t work that way. So for them to learn something, they need to go through it 10 times. Right? So it’s not necessarily black and white all the time. You need to know, understanding your child that’s priority. Number one, learn how your child learns. Understand it understand their brain, where they are, how do they, and immediately jumping instead of immediately jumping to conclusions, try to get into the world and see where they are in the moment.

Yes, to answer that question, should I say mistakes are great stretch. Mistakes are great, but even sloppy mistakes need to be taken with a grain of salt.

Sophia Elliott: Excellent. Excellent. Yeah. So that’s a great distinction in terms of mistakes. I often say to my son who does struggle with making mistakes and trying things if he knows, he’s unsure about the outcome. We talk about Elon Musk and how many rockets it took or exploded before he had one that didn’t explode and that sort of inspires him to keep going. And I think it was like nine or eight or nine or something. And so that’s. I think reaffirms that’s a stretch mistake, and he’s aiming for something bigger.

Yeah, that’s a really great distinction. Thank you.

 Is there any just final advice for parents who are maybe struggling themselves with their own growth mindset. Like you say, to model for their kids that you could give and and just tell us where our listeners can find you.

Alexandra Eidens, Big Life Journal: Yeah. There so your parenting journey is number one modeling exercise for your child. So when they watch you go through your experiences and how you react to things and how you learn from things, how you talk about things, that’s what they learned from. And even if you think that you were raised with a fixed mindset, most of us were just because our parents didn’t know.

Such things, we can certainly model. The journey from a fixed to growth and you can even correct yourself. You know, like if you say something, Oh, is in fixed mindset to your child, your child heard it and you say, Oh, this was just such a fixed mindset thing to say, you know what? I think I need to rephrase it and kind of like have that internal monologue in front of them.

So they can hear you. I wouldn’t necessarily stress too much about like you and that having a growth mindset. And I would just take them on the journey with you and make sure that you don’t forget that the goal is to move closer to growth mindset as much as we can. And in terms of where people can find us is big electronical.com.

We actually do have an Australian store. The biglifejournal.com.au. And we. Make journals in Australia, we support Australian economy and we shipped directly from Australia. So I [00:24:00] think that your listeners would be happy to know that.

Sophia Elliott: Yeah, that’s fabulous. Thank you. So biglifejournal .com.au, and check out the podcast in all the places that you find podcasts.

And that’s the big life kids podcast, which is really great as well. So Alexandra, thank you so much for your time today. I really do appreciate you giving some of your morning to us and our listeners, and thanks for all of your advice there and

Alexandra Eidens, Big Life Journal: for the opportunity and for staying up so late. I appreciate that.

Yeah,

Sophia Elliott: no worries at all. Thanks very much. That’s wonderful. Thank you.

 

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